Friday, November 13, 2009

Faux-Libertarianism & Faith-Based Initiatives

WASHINGTON — The fight over a proposed same-sex marriage law here heated up this week as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said that if the law passed, the church would cut its social service programs that help residents with adoption, homelessness and health care. Under the bill, which has the mayor’s support and is expected to pass next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform same-sex weddings or make space available for them. But officials from the archdiocese said they feared the law might require them to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples. As a result, they said, the archdiocese would have to abandon its contracts with the city if the law passed.

What is going on here? For decades the government has been outsourcing its social services to churches and "private" charities. When you get state money, you play by the state's rules. The Roman Catholic Church now objects to the new marriage rules and is threatening to stop acting as the state's social service contractor.

Tough on the Church and tough on the state. Outsourcing social services was ridiculous to begin with. Most staff at our local church-run social services consortium were employed to write block grants and negotiate with their counterparts in government. The old ladies in the church were outraged: they should be delivering sandwiches to bums on grates and kissing lepers. But given the system, which these old ladies supported, it couldn't be otherwise. They didn't want state supplied social services so the state complying with their demands farmed its social service business out to churches and charities, introducing yet another layer of bureaucracy into the operation to satisfy them.

So now one of these government contractors has threatened to quit. Good riddance.